Ghost has been a constant player at the highest level of XC racing for years and the Ghost Lector LC 3 is an unashamedly rigid, power-focused frameset designed to put you in pole position from the gun. That means the ride is punishing even on groomed trails, though.
With its sharp-angled geometric tubes and contrasting stripes, the Lector’s carbon frame is visually striking and it’s engineered to pack a physical punch. Removable cheek panels on the tapered head tube give fully internal cable routing, while the massive down tube engulfs the press-fit (PF) bottom bracket.
The stout seat tube flares backwards to lock power transmission down, over the deep, tapering chainstays ahead of the 142x12mm thru-axle. The 31.6mm seatpost gives a spread of external dropper upgrade options.
The frame comes in an XS size and offers compatibility with Shimano side swing front mech routing, and comes with a direct mount rear mech.
The RockShox Recon Gold RL fork gets a 15mm Maxle and PopLoc remote lockout but it’s fundamentally less smooth than Fox’s FIT forks Russell Burton
Ghost Lector LC 3 kit
Shimano XT is a good score at this price and, even if you don’t want a double crankset, the 11-speed, 11-40t cassette is wide enough to work fine in single-ring mode. Having brakes that are downgraded to Deore is actually a bonus, compared to often inconsistent XT stoppers, especially as you get a heavy-duty 180mm front rotor for extra power.
The LC 3 boasts triple-compound Evolution versions of Schwalbe’s Rocket Ron tyres, with a generous 2.25in volume and white side-stripes to match the frame, and the wheels are durable if not overly responsive.
A 720mm bar and 100mm stem are what we’d expect on this sort of bike, and while they’re narrow, the grips are lock-ons. The RockShox Recon is outclassed by other forks, though, and even our favourite SDG saddle can’t hide the effects of the frame’s stiffness and large-diameter seatpost.
You can smash up smooth climbs or sprints with determination and not feel like you’re wasting a watt of energy Russell Burton
Ghost Lector LC 3 ride
In terms of power transmission, for the money, it’s hard to fault the LC 3. The Shimano freehub is slightly slow to engage, but once the drive pawls lock into place there’s a rock-solid chain of torque transfer right through to the trail.
More significant, in terms of trail speed, is the way the bike bounces off or hangs up on even the smallest stutter bumps, rather than flowing over and sustaining momentum
The XT chainring is set into a bulged composite carrier for extra stiffness and the hollow-forged crank arms more than compensate for any possible loss of stiffness through the standard-diameter steel (rather than oversized alloy) axle. The 32 spokes aren’t going anywhere when you stamp the power down and it’s the second lightest bike on test so there’s less to lever up to speed.
Add the instant fork lock from the bar lever and you can smash the Lector up smooth climbs or sprints with brutal determination and not feel like you’re wasting a single watt of energy. The double crankset and wide-range cassette mean that no matter how steep or long the hills are, you’ll be able to find the right gear, and if your smiles come from miles then it’s as efficient as you’ll get.
Unfortunately, for thrill seekers, the sheer stiffness of the bike is a real disadvantage as soon as the trail gets remotely rough. Just a couple of roots, a scatter of rocks or hard-baked ruts are enough to slap you about in the saddle and rattle your bingo wings via the narrow grips and numb, unresponsive fork.
More significant, in terms of trail speed, is the way the bike bounces off or hangs up on even the smallest stutter bumps, rather than flowing over and sustaining momentum. In addition, jolting through the pedals makes it hard to keep a smooth spin and creates rapid muscle fatigue.
Because the tyres are constantly kicking around, traction also suffers badly, while the staccato fork character meant we never felt the benefits of the slacker, more confident head angle. The Lector is still harsh even with tyre pressures that are low enough to make pinch flats a constant worry, confirming that it’s more of a fireroad flyer than a rough-trail ripper.